Black & White View of Crime Is Changing

Leonard Doyle, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, December 8, 2008

America was a different country in 1995, when the most-watched murder trial of the 20th century saw an overwhelmingly black jury find O.J. Simpson not guilty of murdering his ex-wife, Nicole Simpson, and her friend Ron Goldman.

It seemed like delayed justice when the former footballer was sentenced to a minimum of nine years’ jail Friday for his role in an armed raid on a Las Vegas hotel room in 2007, during which two dealers were robbed of sports memorabilia.

There was none of the rancor that accompanied the murder acquittal or the civil trial, when a predominantly white jury found him liable for wrongful death.

This could be a hopeful sign that race relations are less poisonous these days. A little prematurely, some are even calling it a Barack Obama effect.

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Even if many blacks still feel they are unfairly prosecuted and put upon by police, just because of their skin color, the general sentiment that the system is unjust may be diminishing.

Two years before Simpson’s acquittal, an all-white jury acquitted Los Angeles police officers in the beating of Rodney King, convincing many of the black population that the legal system was rigged. They showed their feelings with the Los Angeles race riots.

Friday’s sentencing did not seem to stir any of the racial turmoil that so clouded Simpson’s murder trial. {snip} Simpson’s murder acquittal was supported by 62 percent of blacks, while only 20 percent of whites thought the jury had done the right thing.

{snip}

Simpson is now headed to jail where he will find himself in the company of a disproportionate number of black prisoners: 6.8 percent of black men are jailed compared with 1 percent of white men. White people commit lots of crime, but somehow they are not the ones most likely to end up in prison.

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